NRL star Jack de Belin and his mate were “cheering each other on” as they took turns raping a crying woman they had met during a boozy pub crawl through Wollongong, a court has been told.
On the first day of Mr de Belin’s sexual assault trial, the crown prosecutor alleged Mr de Belin handed the woman a $50 note, telling her to order an Uber and “keep your mouth shut” after the incident inside a North Wollongong unit.
The St George Illawarra Dragons forward and friend Callan Sinclair stand accused of sexually assaulting the teenager after the trio met on the dancefloor of the popular Mr Crown bar in late 2018.
The State of Origin representative, 30, and Mr Sinclair, 24, have pleaded not guilty to five counts of aggravated sexual assault over the incident in the early hours of December 9, 2018.
Rugby league player Jack de Belin denies claims he raped the young woman. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De MarchiSource:News Corp Australia
Crown prosecutor David Scully said the woman, then 19, claimed she felt “dead inside” as she was allegedly raped orally, anally and vaginally by the two men who forced themselves on her when she returned with them to a unit owned by Mr de Belin’s cousin Jake Lewis.
Mr Scully told the court on Wednesday the men brought the woman back to the unit with the intention of having a consensual threesome, but when she declined Mr de Belin “would not take no for answer”.
Both men deny wrongdoing and claim the sexual encounter was entirely consensual.
David Campbell SC, acting for Mr de Belin, told the jury the defence would present a “significant body of evidence” that would contradict the version of events alleged by the prosecution.
Mr Campbell asked the jury to question whether CCTV footage showing the woman’s actions before and after the alleged rape reflected the behaviour of someone who had just been assaulted.
“(Both men) have forcefully, emphatically, repeatedly and consistently denied that there was anything untoward about what happened,” he said.
“That is, everything that took place at those premises on that night was consensual.”
Sharyn Hall, representing Mr Sinclair, said her client came from a loving family and had never been in trouble before. Ms Hall said there was no dispute sexual activity took place but it was not assault.
“Callan Sinclair did not sexually assault (the woman). He did not do that,” Ms Hall said.
Callan Sinclair had been on the Santa Pub Crawl with friends including Mr de Belin on the night. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De MarchiSource:News Corp Australia
In his opening address, Mr Scully told the court the woman met Mr de Belin and Mr Sinclair on the dancefloor and had some physical interactions with them.
She gave Mr de Belin a hug, stole his brown Akubra hat and shared a “fun” kiss with Mr Sinclair, the court was told.
Mr Scully said in her mind the woman was just a “19-year-old having fun at Christmas time”, but that did not mean she had any desire to have sex with the men.
The prosecutor said Mr de Belin, however, had formed a “different view”, believing the woman might be interested in coming home with them.
The court was told he leaned into Mr Sinclair and said “I think we’re on here”, before Mr Sinclair replied to him: “Me, you and (the woman), you keen?”
Mr Scully said they left Mr Crown with the woman and friends, including Matt Clune and ex-NRL player Jai Field, but misled the woman who thought they were going to another nightclub 700m down the road called Fever.
Instead, they all headed for a cab rank, with CCTV showing the woman at one stage jumping on Mr Sinclair who gave her a piggyback.
At the cab rank Mr Clune and Mr Field departed to Fever, but Mr de Belin hailed a tuktuk and directed it to the unit, with the woman sitting on Mr Sinclair’s lap.
Mr Scully said Mr de Belin had been “deliberately vague” by not giving the driver an address so the woman would not know where she was going.
Jack de Belin’s partner was pregnant at the time of the alleged rape. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De MarchiSource:News Corp Australia
Mr de Belin allegedly told her they had to go inside the apartment to charge their phones, and the woman said she would wait outside.
She allegedly followed Mr de Belin and Mr Sinclair to use the toilet and had to scale a fence to enter the five-storey unit.
Once inside Mr de Belin is alleged to have directed her to a bedroom ensuite on the fourth floor where he walked in on her naked to use the shower.
When she ran out of the bathroom in shock, Mr Scully told the court, Mr de Belin came up behind her still naked and wet, undid her top and pushed her onto the bed.
Mr Scully said she tried to hide her breasts, but the men said “show us your t**s”. She said “no” before Mr de Belin approached her, split her legs open, grabbed her throat and began vaginal sex, the court was told.
Mr Scully said the footballer was “determined to have sex with her and determined to have the threesome” he had hoped for “and would not take no for answer”.
“He made the decision to take the sex by force. And Mr Sinclair decided to join in,” Mr Scully said.
Callan Sinclair plays rugby league for the Shellharbour Sharks. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De MarchiSource:News Corp Australia
The court was told the men took turns penetrating the woman vaginally and orally and were “cheering each other on”, with Mr de Belin allegedly saying at one point: “Yeah, Cal, keep going.”
“She was dead inside and she was numb, and she was also still crying,” Mr Scully said.
Mr Sinclair eventually went for a shower while Mr de Belin continued to have sex with the woman, picking her up and moving her to a desk and later an ottoman.
It is alleged he penetrated her anus while having sex with her against the desk, prompting her to scream out and him to reply “sorry”. It is alleged he later ejaculated on her back after penetrating her from behind on the ottoman.
After the incident, Mr de Belin told the woman to order them all an Uber back to a nightclub, giving her $50 and demanding “keep your mouth shut”.
Jack de Belin playing for the Dragons in September 2018. Picture: AAP Image/Darren PatemanSource:AAP
Earlier, Mr Sinclair had asked her why she was upset and she allegedly replied: “I didn’t want any of this to happen.”
The court was told CCTV footage showed the trio being dropped outside the nightclub Heyday soon after the incident.
Mr Scully said they could be seen walking closely together but alleged that was because the two men wanted to be seen in public to make things seem “normal”.
The next day she replied to a text from Mr Clune, who had learned she had approached the police, saying “everything was not OK” about the incident at the unit.
The defence openings are expected to be heard following the court’s lunch break on Wednesday afternoon.
The trial continues before Judge Nicole Noman.
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